In this age of increasing liability and requirements to ensure employee competency and safety in the workplace, employers are faced with the ever-increasing responsibility of providing effective training to employees, especially new employees, and those who undertake new or different duties. Where can employees go to get direction and assistance in satisfying the requirements for effective safety training?

Industry Recommended Practice (IRP) Volume 16, Basic Safety Awareness Training is one of a series of guidelines and practices which have been developed in the petroleum industry to supplement and, in some cases, reinforce provincial safety legislation. There are currently 23 such IRP’s which exist under the auspices of the Canadian Petroleum Safety Council (PSC). Examples of other IRP’s include: IRP Volume 1 – Critical Sour Drilling; Volume 7 – Standard for Well Site Supervision of Drilling, Completions and Workovers; Volume 9 – Basic Safety Program; Volume 11 – Dangerous Tree Control; and Volume 17 – Ground Disturbance in the Vicinity of Buried Facilities.

The Basic Safety Awareness Training IRP sets out in general terms the content and considerations to be taken into account for basic safety awareness training geared towards companies working in the Oil and Gas industry in Canada. The aim is to provide a guideline on the standard expected from the industry to positively impact safety performance.

By providing Basic Safety Awareness Training effectively, repeated general safety training becomes unnecessary other than a site-specific orientation at each and every worksite to ensure that workers have been made aware of the hazards specific in that site. In this regard the Basic Safety Awareness Training is similar to the required Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training where only site-specific training on controlled products present at the site is required once the worker has completed general WHMIS training beforehand.

IRP 16 provides components for Basic Safety Awareness Training in the areas of legislation, hazards, and safe work practices associated with working in the industry. The IRP details a method of program development for delivering training and sets out some criterion to consider in choosing and developing this method. It then sets out what should be included in a comprehensive basic safety awareness training program. This is found in Appendix C of the practice which provides reference material for training. This includes in part, guidance on OH&S regulations and workers compensation legislation, WHMIS, TDG, hazard identification, assessment and control, personal protective equipment, confined space entry, and respiratory protection.

The appendix further provides guidance on developing safe work practices for safe work permitting systems, equipment lock-out systems, fire prevention and fire extinguishers, scaffolding, excavation and trenching, and driving (journey management), as well as other common workplace hazards, e.g.; proper lifting techniques, tools, ladders, compressed gas cylinders and housekeeping.

Guidance on hazards more specific to the oil and gas industry is included in the areas of exploration, drilling and servicing rigs, oilfield trucking, production plants, emergency response and safety communication.

Finally, in order to gauge the effectiveness of the Basic Safety Training, a method is required for measuring the knowledge gained by the participants which usually takes the form of a test at the end of training. This knowledge assessment will require decisions on what constitutes an adequate level of knowledge for successful participants and how learners who do not pass will be handled. A system for keeping track of who has successfully completed the Basic Safety Awareness Training must be established and maintained. This would include providing the learner with documentation which verifies successful completion of the training, such as a wallet card.

It should be noted that the IRP does not, nor is it intended to, replace or reduce the necessity of each employer to conduct site- and company-specific hazard identification and controls that are essential to safety awareness (remember the analogy to WHMIS). In the case where a company utilizes its own training program which does not correspond to the IRP #16 standard, the owner/operator/prime contractor would be required to decide whether the said program was acceptable or whether the worker would be required to attend a full orientation.

The Petroleum Industry Training Service has designed and produced a safety training program for workers in the petroleum industry. This program, Petroleum Safety Training (PST) meets all of the requirements of IRP 16 and is a computer-based, interactive, multi-media program with video introductions and tutorials, topic quizzes and lesson testing to aid the learner through the program.

There are 13 topics within the PST program. Most are required lessons which must be taken to meet the minimum standard for IRP 16, Four lessons are optional, which look at differing areas in the oil & gas industry that the learner may work in. The lessons include:

  1. Regulations
  2. WHMIS
  3. Personal Protective Equipment
  4. Hazard Recognition and Control
  5. Common Workplace Hazards and Control
  6. Oil & Gas Industry Hazards and Control
  7. Gas Hazards and Control Measures
  8. Exploration Hazards and Control (optional)
  9. Rig Hazards and Control (optional)
  10. Oilfield Trucking Hazards and Control (optional)
  11. Production and Plant Hazards and Control (optional)
  12. Work Procedures
  13. Safety Communication

NOTE: The learner must choose at least one of the optional lessons for certification.

After completing each lesson, learners are challenged with a short competency test. Total running time of the program is approximately six hours. Significant computer skills are not required as the program has been specifically designed to guide the learner easily through the program.

The PST program can be purchased for internal use by larger employers or it may be taken by individual learners at the Petroleum Industry Training Service, Nisku or Calgary Training Centres.

For further information on PST, contact Jo-Anne Beggs at PITS toll-free at 1-800-667-5557 or (403) 250-9606 or visit the PITS website,

For further information on Industry Recommended Practice 16, contact Alicia Willy at the Petroleum Safety Council toll-free at 1- 877-827-2331 or (403) 509-4871 or visit the PSC website,


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